Ensuring and Evaluating Assessment Quality for Innovative Assessment and Accountability Systems

Topics: Education Policy, ESSA

This brief is designed to assist states in thinking through the opportunities and challenges associated with flexibility provided under the ESSA. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides an opportunity for states to develop an innovative assessment and accountability system to evaluate student and school performance. While the nature of the assessments that comprise the system is flexible (e.g., competency-based assessments, curriculum embedded assessments), a state will need to ensure that the academic assessments administered in reading or English language arts, mathematics, and science are of high-quality. The Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority (herein known as the “Demonstration Authority” or “innovative pilot”) requires each participating state to demonstrate that its assessment system is comprised of high quality assessments that support the calculation of valid, reliable and comparable annual determinations and provides useful information to relevant stakeholders about what students know and can do relative to the learning targets.

While Section 1111 of ESSA outlines the requirements for high quality assessments, that section of the statute focuses on individual assessments (e.g., 5th grade mathematics state assessments). Innovative pilots, on the other hand, will generally implement assessment systems, comprised of multiple sources of assessment information, to determine annual measures of student and school performance. States applying for an innovative pilot will have to demonstrate to reviewers how their proposed system, as a whole, and the resulting determinations of performance, will be of high quality.

The quality of the assessment system not only rests on the quality of the assessments within the system, but also how well the assessments work together to provide for useful information that can serve the intended purposes and goals.